New book to shine a light on creation of 1970s sitcoms

Thursday 17th June 2021, 12:26pm

Robert Sellers - Raising Laughter cover.

Raising Laughter: How The Sitcom Kept Britain Smiling In The '70s, a new book due to be published in September, will take an in-depth look at the creation of British TV sitcoms between 1970 and 1979.

Talking about their new title, The History Press say: "For the first time the stories behind the making of every sitcom from the 1970s will be told by the actors, writers, directors and producers who made them all happen."

The book has been written by Robert Sellers, who - amongst other titles - has previously worked on The Secret Life Of Ealing Studios, the history of George Harrison's film company HandMade Films, and the authorised biographies of Kenny Everett and Ernie Wise.

Sellers, talking to British Comedy Guide, confirms: "In the book I discuss every single 1970s sitcom, with stories and quotes from many of those involved in bringing them to the screen."

The blurb elaborates: "Aside from providing entertainment to millions of people, the sitcom is a window into the culture of the day, and Raising Laughter provides a fresh look at one of our most divisive and controversial decades: the 1970s. It was the era of the three-day week, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the winter of discontent, trade union Bolshevism and wildcat strikes. Many of these sitcoms tapped into the decade's sense of cynicism, failure and alienation, providing much-needed laughter for the masses.

"Shows like Rising Damp and Fawlty Towers were classic encapsulations of worn-out, run down Britain. While the likes of Dad's Army looked back sentimentally at an imagined English past. This is nostalgia with a capital N, an oral history, the last word, and an affectionate salute to the kind of comedy programme that just isn't made anymore."

Those interviewed include Are You Being Served? actor Trevor Bannister, Butterflies star Wendy Craig, Man About The House and George & Mildred regular Brian Murphy, Nerys Hughes from The Liver Birds and It Ain't Half Hot Mum's Melvyn Hayes.

The thoughts of prolific writers such as Eric Chappell, Roy Clarke, Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais, Bob Larbey and David Nobbs are also included, as are interviews with directors and producers such as John Howard Davies, Humphrey Barclay and Harold Snoad.

Sellers has been working on the project for some time now. He tells us: "I've been collecting interviews for this book for many years, sadly some of the people I spoke with have since passed away, like Galton & Simpson, Richard Briers, Carla Lane and Eric Sykes."

Also interviewed in the book are: Daniel Abineri, Raymond Allen, David Barry, Patricia Brake, Duggie Brown, Ian Carmichael, Tony Caunter, Brian Clemens, Con Cluskey, Dec Cluskey, Brian Cooke, Ray Cooney, Jilly Cooper, Priscilla Dunn, Norman Eshley, Liza Goddard, Mike Grady, Robin Hawdon, Melvyn Hayes, Philippa Howell, Susan Jameson, Martin Jarvis, John Kane, Diane Keen, David Kelly, Matthew Kelly, Peter Lewis, David Mallett, Troy Kennedy Martin, Francoise Pascal, Su Pollard, Jeff Rawle, David Roper, Peter Sallis, Tony Selby, Mike Sharland, Peter Spence, William G Stewart, Richard Stilgoe, Christopher Strauli, Peter Tilbury and David Warwick.

Raising Laughter: How The Sitcom Kept Britain Smiling In The '70s will be published in hardback and eBook formats on 1st September 2021. It is available to pre-order now.

Robert Sellers - Raising Laughter: How The Sitcom Kept Britain Smiling In The '70s

Robert Sellers - Raising Laughter: How The Sitcom Kept Britain Smiling In The '70s

For the first time the stories behind the making of every sitcom from the 1970s will be told by the actors, writers, directors and producers who made them all happen.

Aside from providing entertainment to millions of people, the sitcom is a window into the culture of the day, and Raising Laughter provides a fresh look at one of our most divisive and controversial decades: the 1970s. It was the era of the three-day week, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the winter of discontent, trade union Bolshevism and wildcat strikes. Many of these sitcoms tapped into the decade's sense of cynicism, failure and alienation, providing much-needed laughter for the masses.

Shows like Rising Damp and Fawlty Towers were classic encapsulations of worn-out, run down Britain, while the likes of Dad's Army looked back sentimentally at an imagined English past. This is nostalgia with a capital N, an oral history, the last word, and an affectionate salute to the kind of comedy programme that just isn't made anymore.

First published: Wednesday 1st September 2021

Latest news